Social Movements' Letter to UNASUR Demands Withdrawal of MINUSTAH Troops from Haiti
Last week, Latin American social movements sent the following letter to defense ministers of UNASUR member states, demanding accountability from the UN and withdrawal of MINUSTAH troops from Haiti. Distributed by our friends at Jubilee South.
June 13, 2012
Ministers of Defense
UNASUR Member States
UNASUR Secretary General
We commend the Ministers of Defense and the High Representatives for Foreign Relations of UNASUR’s Member States for the consideration given at their meeting at Asunción, Paraguay, on June 5, to the situation in our fellow country Haiti, and we support the recognition expressed in their Declaration of the importance of consolidating a policy, on behalf of UNASUR, of a sustained cooperation which “respects the sovereignty and the self-determination of the Haitian people” and which achieves “a tangible improvement in the living conditions” as the necessary basis of security and lasting peace.
We therefore urge UNASUR’s member states to take firm and effective measures in that direction, including the immediate withdrawal of the 4,929 occupying troops (including both soldiers and military police) currently deployed in Haiti by 10 of UNASUR’s 12 Member States; an end to the MINUSTAH mission and of all other foreign military presence; and furthermore an end to the impunity and absence of justice that have allowed the continued toleration of violations of human rights by these forces.
Together with the civil organizations and social movements in Haiti with which we share analyses and activities in a permanent way, we further demand the opening of a dialogue with the participation of society, both in Haiti and in each of UNASUR’s Member States, regarding the policies of cooperation and support that the Haitian people want and need. We reiterate, in this regard, the principles and demands expressed in the Letters which we sent in May 2011 to the governments of UNASUR’s Member States, and in October 2011 to the United Nations and OAS, with the support of hundreds of organizations from both the region and the world, and which we are attaching to this letter.
We take special note of the decision adopted in Asunción by the Ministers of Defense and the High Representatives for Foreign Relations of UNASUR’s Member States to form a Working Group “for the purposes of elaborating a scheme on the strategy, form, conditions, stages, and timeline of a Plan of Reduction of Contingents of the Military Component of the Mission.” We appreciate that the countries in our region, after eight years of the military presence in Haiti constituted by most of them, are finally recognizing that that presence—and the very mandate of MINUSTAH, which is predicated on the hypocritical premise that “Haiti is a threat to Peace and world security”—cannot achieve the results that the Haitian people need, and should be ended.
For these same reasons, however, it is unacceptable that the withdrawal of troops continues to be delayed and furthermore that a layer of confusion has been added which only serves to disguise and to attempt to legitimize the decision approved by the UN Security Council in October 2011 to reduce the military occupation to its level prior to the earthquake and to continue to promote the presence of MINUSTAH beyond the current period of its mandate when it expires next October.
The Haitian Senate unanimously approved the withdrawal of MINUSTAH one year ago, and Haitian social and human rights organizations and the public in general are expressing with ever greater vehemence their rejection of this custodial presence. It is time for the Member States of UNASUR to hear those voices and assume their historic and current debt towards that country and its people, the precursor and fellow supporter of the struggles for freedom throughout our entire region.
While MINUSTAH continues to occupy Haiti—with the consequences of still-unpunished violations of human rights, including the rape of women and youths and the introduction of the cholera epidemic that has killed more than 7,000 people and has further complicated the precarious health and sanitation situation that affects the population, absorbing ever more of the financial resources set aside for the cleanup of debris and resettlement of those affected by the earthquake, urgent tasks that are still incomplete more than two years after the tragedy—the concrete processes of occupation and economic and ecological re-colonization advance with dangerous speed. These processes include the privatization and de-nationalization of services fundamental to human rights, such as telecommunications; the conversion of the most fertile areas in the country into free zones for garment-manufacturing, or agrofuels, or mega-dams to motorize the advance of the green economy, or strip-mining for gold.
The governments of UNASUR Member States should not, through their presence and support of MINUSTAH, continue to support the plundering, exploitation, and re-colonization of Haiti. We hope, rather, that they will advance in the consolidation of the articulated policies of cooperation based on the fundamental rights of the Haitian population and that in the relevant multilateral forums they will firmly champion, among other demands, the following:
- The non-renewal of the MINUSTAH mission when its current mandate expires on October 15;
- The formal recognition of MINUSTAH’s culpability for the introduction of cholera and the corresponding reparations to the affected persons and communities;
- The immediate re-conversion of the segment of the budget now dedicated to the maintenance of MINUSTAH (approximately US$800 million annually) to social investment without further debt, to support reforestation, to insure universal access to potable water and sanitation facilities, and to create health and public education infrastructure.
Please accept our regards and reaffirmation of our willingness to move forward together in the direction we have indicated.
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Nobel Peace Prize winner and President, Servicio Paz y Justicia
Nora Cortiñas y Mirta Baravalle, Madres de Plaza de Mayo – Founding Line
Amigos de la Tierra de América Latina y el Caribe (ATALC)
Comité por la Anulación de la Deuda del Tercer Mundo – AYNA
Convergencia de Movimientos Populares de la América (COMPA)
Coordinadora Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Organizaciones del Campo (CLOC)
Encuentro Sindical Nuestra América
Marcha Mundial de las Mujeres – América Latina y el Caribe
School of Américas Watch (SOAW)
Servicio Paz y Justicia en América Latina (SERPAJ)
Central de Trabajadores de la Argentina CTA
Coordinadora de movimientos populares de Argentina (COMPA)
Diálogo 2000 Argentina
Federación Universitaria de La Plata (Argentina)
Frente Popular Darío Santillán FPDS (Argentina)
Movimientos Sociales hacia el ALBA (Capítulo Argentina)
Servicio Paz y Justicia - Argentina
Rede Jubileu Sul Brasil
Políticas Alternativas para el Cono Sur (PACS) Brasil
Central Memorial Martín Luther King, Jr. (Cuba)
Enc.: Letter to UNASUR, May 2011
Open Letter to the UN and OAS, October 2011
Diálogo 2000 - Jubileo Sur/Américas
Piedras 730 (1070) Buenos Aires